Weber And The Neo Charismatic Essay

5102 words - 21 pages

Robert J. House*
University of Pennsylvania

I am very pleased to be able to comment on Professor Janice Beyer’s article in The Leadership Quarterly Special Issue. Part I (vol. 10. no. 2, pp. 307-330). Beyer is to be commended for her insightful critique of the charismatic-transformational leadership literature and for her thorough exposition of the Weberian conception of charisma. As will become apparent, I am in agreement with some of what Beyer has said and in disagreement with several of the assertions she has advanced. For the sake of clarity, I believe it is appropriate to contrast Weherinn charisma from ...view middle of the document...

*Direct all correspondence to: Robert J. House, Fels Building, 3X14 Walnut St. (39th & Walnut Streets), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104: e-nzuil: Leadership Quarterly, lO(4). 563-574. Copyright 0 1YYY by Elsevier Science Inc. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved. ISSN: 1048-9843

Copyright ©2000. All Rights Reserved.



Beyer asserts that organizational theories of charisma ignore the role of crisis as a necessary condition for the emergence of charisma. While all organizational behaviorists assert having an appealing vision is a necessary condition for charismatic leadership, they do not insist the vision be rudicaf. Whether rtrdicul vision and a crisis are necessary conditions for the emergence and effectiveness of or,qanizmtioruf charismatic leaders is an empirical question yet to be answered. It is clear, however, that some form of severe threat or stress experienced by followers facilitates the emergence and effectiveness of organizational charismatic Ieadcrs (House, Spangler, & Woycke, I991 ; Pillai & Mcindl. 1991: Waldman, Ramirez, House, Br Puranam, 1998). Organizational behaviorists are generally more psychologically oriented and define charisma as one of the following: (1) a relationship between an individual (leader) and others (followers) based on deeply held shared ideological (as opposed to material) values: (2) an individual who accomplishes unusual feats through the efforts of followers who are exceptionally loyal to the leader, have a high degree of trust in the leader. and are willing to make personal sacrifices in the interest of the leader’s vision and the collective led by the leader: (3) a complex set of personal characteristics and/or behaviors of an individual that leads to the above outcomes. The specific traits and behaviors are defined somewhat differently amongthc organizational behaviorists’ theories. Organizational behaviorists have used all three of the above definitions, none of which are incompatible with the others. Definition 1 stresses the relationship between leader and followers. Definition 2 stresses outcomes of the leader-follower relationship. Definition 3 stresses the attributes of the leader. I view organizarion~lf chrrrisnzn as an extraordinary relationship between an individual (leader) and others (followers) based on shared deeply held ideological (as opposed to material) values. The outcome of this relationship is extraordinary accomplishments as a result of the vision and inspirational ability of the leader and the loyalty and trust of the followers, their cohesiveness as a collective, and their willingness to make persona1 sacrifices in the interest of the leader‘s vision and the collective led by the leader. It is perhaps appropriate to entitle Beyer’s view of charisma as the sociological view of charisma or, more succinctly. Weberian charisma and to view the organizational...

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